Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Good Death

There is such a thing as a good death. And a bad death. I've seen both. Hah! I've seen so much death, left right and sideways that Lethe has knocked me down and covered me as easily as the Atlantic in January or July. This is not my death we are discussing, for once, that will be soon enough I am sure, but death as an abstraction, death that I have witnessed.

Oh, I've seen. I've seen close, I've seen so close the Eish crept out between the lips I pressed shut, crept out and snaked around and kissed me. I've known death from the other side of the world, when all I could do was nothing, nothing, nothing to help or console, heal or be healed except rock like an autistic child, banging my head against the wall so I wouldn't feel.

A good death. What is a good death? A death prepared for, expected, welcomed, longed for even, perhaps with your loved ones around you to comfort you and each other. I want a good death for me, but that will be alone, just between me and the lightpost. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to talk about myself, the ego train never leaves this choo-choo track does it? It's not all about me although in some sense every word I write is a reflection of me. Me and the lightpost. Or the support beam. The cinderblock wall. The water way down below, swollen river calling me.

It's about Jeff. My beloved Jeff, my snaggle-toothed, 5 ft 6-1/2 inch angel with the most beautiful black ringlets I've ever seen, at lest until it fell out in clumps from the meds, great handfuls of hair, trails of hair. Hansel and Gretel tried to follow the trail of hair, but the birds took it to weave into new homes for their chicks.

If the birds got a hold of one of Jeff's boots, they could house the whole covey there.

Jeff had time, or at least e knew how fast the sand was running. The blessing? curse of knowledge, that odd gift which resulted in god but perhaps not shekinah abandoning us in Gan Eden, knowledge which opens one door and shuts another. That is what all knowledge does, opens doors. Who admits that it also closes them? Who has that courage? Courage is touching the sacred, holding it, evaluating it. Where is it sacred? Is the taboo, the profanity in the object or in the touch?

The holy of holies will turn you to ashes. I have tasted ashes, worn sackcloth. Am I a holy vessel? Or am I a contaminant?

Sixty days. Sixty days after our mother died, fifty-five days after shiva ended, thirty days after sheloshim, thirty days when we were supposed to breathe deep and know that we come out the other end of this tunnel, and it doesn't matter if there is light or no light, all that matters is coming out the other side.

Oh god how could they? How could they kiss him on the forehead and send him home to us, wounded creatures that we are? How can we take care of him when we are don't know how to take care of ourselves?

He was so beautiful. But you know that, you've heard me say it any number of times, that David's bashert was the most beautiful creature I'd ever seen. A sun everyone wanted to touch, to be burnt, scorched, rendered into an offering fit for a god, or rendered as an offering to a god.

Is there a difference between being an offering and being transformed into one? Aaron's sons were struck down, nothing was left. My sun accepts, catharsis, transforms into a part of the whole, a better part than it was to start.

If you knew him.

If you'd met him.

He had as good a death as it is possible to have, if you can wrap your mind around the concept that any death being a good death.

I'd like to die like Jeff. Oh, not of AIDS, not from medicines that poison while they heal, not from some long wasting illness, not surrounded by people either. No, I'd like to die peaceful, here. Knowing that whatever I had done or not done, the decision was made and all I could do was accept and sleep. I want the freedom of irresponsible, of escape. Jeff had everyone who loved him crowded into a hospital room, a minyan which sang his eish to straight to heaven, to the right hand of god, to join the rest of the thirty-six who awaited.

I still have the flowers that were on his night-table. Twenty-one years and I still have the flowers.

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